Name: Claire O’Hara
Hometown: Leeds, England
Sponsors: Teva, Jackson Kayaks, Peak UK, Sweetwater Coaching, Mitchell Blades, Murky Water, G Form, Maui Jim, Olympus, Alpkit, Robie Robes
What got you into freestyle kayaking?
I first got into freestyle kayaking in 2001 when I went to a Peak Challenge Freestyle Series Event in the UK. I had already tried surfing and basic freestyle moves before this but it was at the event that I saw other boaters having loads of fun throwing down some awesome freestyle routines. It was at this event that I decided these tricks were moves I really wanted to be able to do and this scene was something I would like to be part of.
You won the worlds in 2011, what’s it like defending the title this year? Any added pressure?
Its exciting. It was such a great experience competing in the event in 2011 and winning the two titles was a dream come true. To be able to come out here this year and have the chance to battle for them again is super exciting. There’s definitely a little added pressure this year being the defending champion, I know there will be people watching and expecting me to do well. I also have the added personal pressure in that I have been training hard, I know what I can do and I really want to go out there and put down some great runs and showcase this all at the event. But I know that at the end of the day I can only go out there and paddle to my best on the day so I see this all healthy good pressure, it will help motivate me to try to succeed.
What’s your training regiment look like? Are you training year round for freestyle?
I’ve been training almost full time now for the last 3 years. At the moment I have been working on familiarizing myself with the competition venue and keeping injury free. I’ve spent the last 7 months on the road training on some of the best features across the world working on skills and techniques. Now i’m just keeping these skills fresh and working on adapting them to the worlds hole and putting together a routine.
Ladies freestyle is still up and coming, do you have any advice for the ladies coming up in the sport?
Go out there and challenge yourself to be the best that you can be. Paddle with people who are passionate about and love the sport and motivate you to succeed.
What’s your favorite part of traveling on the freestyle circuit?
Being able to paddle with amazing people on great features all around the world. The freestyle circuit has taken me to some absolutely incredible places and I have made great friends along the way. To be able to experience this whilst doing the sport I love and all the while whilst learning and challenging myself to improve is awesome.
What’s your summer plan leading into this year’s worlds?
This summer I spent a month in the UK training with my coach Dennis Newton before heading over to the USA in June to compete at the Payette River Games and begin training at the NOC. I have just taken a 2 week break to head to Canada and coach on the OKS Keeners programme and compete in the Jimi Cup event. I will then be heading back to the USA for the rest of the summer to train for the ICF World Championships and the 2013 Mystery World Championships.